Thailand Leads Car Sales In SEA


But will struggle to stay on top.

It’s no surprise that Thailand came up tops as having the most vehicles sold in the South East Asian region, from data released by the Asean Automotive Federation (AAF) for January to November 2013. In those 11 months, 1 216 751 units of motor vehicles were transacted in the country, down 5% in a year-over-year comparison.

Hot on Thailand’s heels was Indonesia (no surprise there) with 1 132 174 units, which is a 10% improvement compared to the same period during 2012. Maintaining its third place is Malaysia, with 595 300 units sold.

In the motorcycles and scooters category, Indonesia left its neighbours in the dust with a whopping 7 218 606 units of two-wheelers sold, an 8.5% year-over-year improvement. Thailand followed in second place with only 1 877 746 units, which equates to a 5% decrease in sales compared to the previous year. Third on this list is the Philippines with 677 101 units of two-wheelers traded.

However, Thailand’s place on the podium is shaky and it may stumble this year. As we have highlighted in an earlier article, increased sales in Thailand was an occurance of false demand generated by the first-car and eco-car programmes, coercing automakers into offering generous incentives to buyers in order to clear overflowing inventory. In December 2013, the Thai automotive industry saw the lowest production output in 20 months, which was only 158 893 vehicles, down 28.22% from December 2012. Meanwhile, the last two months of 2013 saw the Kingdom engulfed in political turmoil which, in short, is bad for any business, and does not seem to have a definite end in sight.

To further augment the problem, Indonesia and Malaysia are already stealing pieces of the pie and wooing foreign automakers to move production over to their territories instead. Toyota has confirmed that it will shift production of the Vios from Thailand to their West Java plant in Indonesia, which means that it will cease to import the Vios from Thailand when the model starts rolling off the production line. According to Masahiro Nonami, President-Director of Toyota Motors Manufacturing Indonesia, the expanding Indonesian middle-class and the consistent high demand for cars in Indonesia is the reason for the production location change. The Japanese automaker has invested USD208 million initial capital on its Indonesian expansion.

Very recently, the other dominant Japanese automotive firm, Honda, launched a second production line in its Pegoh plant situated in Malacca, Malaysia. This will be Malaysia’s first hybrid facility as the country sets itself up as the EEV hub for the region. This particular RM382 million production line of Honda will be manufacturing hybrids for Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Watch out, Thailand. You’re in for a tough year ahead.

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